Sand Mining

2023: Riverbed Mining Deaths & Violence in WEST INDIA

(Wreckage of sand laden tractor after collision with sand loaded truck in Dholpur, Rajasthan in June 2022. Image Source: Patrika)

After analysis of the riverbed mining related deaths and violence incidents in North and East Indian states in Part one and Part two between April 2022 and February 2023, this third part in the series presents the summary of detailed compilation on the topic in West Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa for the period.


On the basis of media reports we could find that at least 4 people have died in in sand mining related accidents and violence in Rajasthan between April 2022 and February 2023. The casualties includes death of a truck driver in collision between sand laden truck and tractor in Dholpur in June 2022, death of a 7 year old girl due to drowning in deep sand mine pit in Pali district in Sept 2022, death of a motorcyclist by sand laden dumper in Alwar in January 2023.

Rajasthan has seen incidents of 2 violent attacks on common people and public representative for objecting to and complaining against illegal sand mining in this period. Firstly a man in Jaipur lost his life for opposing passing of sand vehicles in his locality in Jaipur in April 2022. He was mowed down by sand laden tractor. The brother of the deceased also got injured in the attack.

Then, illegal miners attempted to kill an ex-sarpanch in July 2022 for raising the issue of illegal mining in Luni river in Barmer district. Demanding action against the culprits, the local people kept the market close and sat on a day long dharna. In Aug 2022 Member of Parliament Ranjeeta Koli claimed threat to her life & damage to vehicle in stone pelting incident by illegal miners in Bharatpur district.

Family members of Suresh Choudhary (35) who was mowed down by sand tractor and local residents protest outside in Kardhani area Jaipur. ToI April 2022

There have been at least 3 incidents of life threatening attacks on government officials in the state. First, on 30 July 2022, Ramachandra Rao, a 30-year-old constable and in-charge of police outpost under Chechat police station, Dholpur sustained critical injuries after he was beaten up with iron rods and sticks allegedly by the sand mafia. Before this, a police officer was beaten up by a group of men engaged in transporting illegally mined sand gravel in Itawa town of Kota in July 2022.

On 11 Sep 2022, DFO Anil Kumar Yadav narrowly escaped and two members of his team were injured in stone pelting incident by a dozen illegal miners in National Chambal Sanctuary, Dholpur. The DFO’s car was damaged in the attack and mining mafia managed to run away with seized vehicles.

The illegal stone mafias are also active in Rajasthan causing deaths to people and violent attacks on government officials. In addition to deaths by illegal sand mining incidents, 2 stone mine workers lost their lives while many other suffered injuries in a mine collapse incident in Seeker on 2 July 2022. A joint team of forest, mining, police and transport faced attacked by illegal stone miners and villagers in Dholpur on 5 January 2023.

In two part series in The Morning Context, reporter Devendra Pratap Singh Shekhawat reveals the modus operandi by mining mafia and deep malaise in minor minerals governance in Rajasthan. The part one also lists 10 incidents of attacks by illegal miners on government officials between February 2022 and January 2023.


At least 9 people have died in sand mining related incidents in Madhya Pradesh between February 2022 and April 2023. All the deaths and injuries of 4 people have occurred due to mishaps at mining sites and road accidents caused by sand laden vehicles in this period.

The mishaps at mining sites includes death of 2 workers due to collapse of sand mine in Kali Sindh river, Ujjain on 02 June 2022 and death of a driver due to overturning of sand loaded tractor on the bank of Gunjari river, Shivpuri on 06 September 2022.

The remaining 6 deaths have taken place in 6 fatal road accidents by sand transporting vehicles which includes deaths of a school student, 2 bikers and a 4 year old kid on 09 April, 30 May, 19 October in 2022 and on 13 January 2023 in Morena, Chhatarpur, Barwani and Datia respectively while a 2 persons including a driver died due to overturning of sand laden tractor in Betul on 18 January 2023.

The govt officials particularly from forest department continue to face fatal attacks by illegal sand miners in Madhya Pradesh. At least 10 government officials have suffered injuries in 4 incidents of attacks during raids or actions on illegal sand mining in MP in the reporting period.

First on 28 April 2022, about a dozen staff of forest department team were attacked with sticks and stones by sand mafia in Chanderi area of Ashok Nagar district for seizing vehicles involved in illegal mining. Hand of a staff got fractured and 5 other suffered light injuries in the attack. The illegal miners also snatched away rifle from a staff  before escaping from the spot with their tractor-trolley

Then on 16 October 2022, a beat guard was seriously injured when illegal miners tried to mow him down during a raid on illegal mining near Gouraiya village of Kothi area in Satna district. Some forest guards were injured and 3 vehicles were damaged after the a group of over 40 illegal miners opened fired and pelted stones during a raid near Baretha ghat under Tantera police station area in Morena on 08 December 2022.

Sand trucks trapped in Sindh flash flood. Nai Duniya, July 2022

The report mentions a similar attack on forest department team 6 months back in Rithora area by illegal stone miners. In both incidents the forest department team alleged deliberate inaction by SHO Rithora and involvement of police officials in illegal mining business.  In latest such incident on 10 Feb 2023, few policemen including lady SHO of Sihoniya police station in Morena were injured after the team was attacked by illegal sand miners.  This report lists 10 incidents of fatal attacks on govt officials by illegal sand miners in Morena since March 2012.

The illegal miners also tried to bury a Basad village farmer alive in a pit for opposing illegal mining from a check dam on Tapti river and passage of sand through his fields in Burhanpur on 14 December 2022.

The state has also seen a big accident being averted after 78 sand trucks were caught in flash flood in Sindh river on 20 July 2022. The incident occurred during mining during monsoon at Parrayach mine site under Lahar tehsil of Bhind district. Mining is prohibited during monsoon. Several divers trapped in trucks and flash floods had to run and swim to save their lives in the incident.  Also there was a road blockade staged by sand truckers in Dewas on 6 December 2022 accusing police team of partial action and harassment.


There have been death of 7 persons in sand mining related incidents in Maharashtra between April 2022 and February 2023. Of these death, 6 have happened due to 4 road accidents involving sand mining vehicles. While 4 persons including 3 students were killed after a sand loaded dumper overturned on a passenger auto near Chole village in Raigarh on 8 Nov 2022; a college student and a dumper cleaner were killed in Nanded and Thane city on 5 & 29 April 2022 respectively in two road accidents by sand transporting vehicles. Also felling off a sand truck into Dhavanda river in Yavatmal on 18 May 2022 resulted in injuries to the driver.

There have been 2 incidents of attack on people raising their voices against illegal sand mining. In the first such incident, Madhav Shinde a 26 year old youth and son of lady gram panchayat member in Palam tehsil of Parbhani district was brutally murdered of for objecting to illegal mining in Godavari river. The incident took place on 24 March 2022 and we had not covered this in our previous analysis on the subject.

Then, Amod Mundhe (44) an RTI activist was attacked inside the Pen tehsildar office premises while he was on his way to attend a hearing on his complaint about illegal excavation of earth and ‘murrum’ on 08 July 2022. The activist had lodged a complaint with the Pen police station a month ago about a threat to his life, but no action was taken at that time.

Teshilsar, Madha whose leg was fractured during a raid on illegal sand miners in Sina river. Maharashtra Times

The state also saw 3 incidents of attacks on government officials in the past 11 months. In the first case, sand smugglers attacked the vehicle of Revenue Department with stones and sticks and thrashed Bhandara SDO Ravindra Rathod, injuring him seriously after he stopped three tippers carrying illegally excavated sand. The attack happened on 28 April 2022 in the presence of police causing unrest among Revenue staffers who demanded company of armed policemen during raids on illegal miners to avoid such attacks.  

Sadly, again on 02 November 2022, tehsildar Deepak Karande of Mohadi was fatally attacked by sand smugglers in Bhandara district. There was attempt to kill Tehsildar with the claws of JCB reportedly by a worker of a private organization belonging to a big leader in the district. The tehsildars had to fire in the air to save his life. In the third incident, a tehsildar got his leg fractured while a talathi was injured in Madha tehsil, Solarpur during a raid on illegal sand miners in Sina river on December 04, 2022. In fourth such incident, a tehsildar in Jalana was attacked inside his office by illegal sand miners on 22 February 2023.

In a separate tragic incident, 5 members of a family including 3 children were drowned to death in a water-filled stone quarry pit in Dombivali, Thane district on 07 May 2022. The incident occurred at Sandap village which comes under the 27 villages in Kalyan.


In Gujarat Ramesh Balia, a 24-year-old RTI activist of Meghpar village was killed and his father, also a RTI activist, was grievously injured after a man accused of illegal sand mining allegedly rammed their scooter with his SUV in Lakhpat Taluka in Kutch district on Oct 3, 2022. The RTI activist had filed complaints of illegal mining against the accused Navalsinh Jadeja, Jadeja apparently held a grudge against Mr. Balia for lodging complaints against him with the local mines and minerals department for illegal sand mining.

On 5 Jan 2023, a team of mining department was attacked injuring 2 staffs when they went to investigate illegal sand mining at Hirapur village in Ahmedabad. In third incident, Prince Mawi, a 4 year old kid was buried under sand heap by a JCB machine while he was playing on Radhe Firm ground in Padhar police station area of Bhuj district on 9 Jan 2023.  


A migrant sand worker was shot dead and another was critically injured while they were illegally extracting sand at Maad-Bhansai in Curchorem, South Goa district on the intervening night of 31 August and 01 September 2022. A third labourer escaped unhurt in the incident. While Yusuf Alam, 23, from Jharkhand, died at the spot, his colleague, Mohamed Sahu, 33, injured with a bullet injury, was admitted to GMC in a critical condition. The three labourers were hired by a contractor for illegal sand mining.

The shooting incident indicated that illegal sand mining activity is going on unabated. Motorised canoes are used to illegally extract sand. Recently there was a clash between two groups involved in sand extraction from the Bansai area. Activists alleged nexus between the sand miners and local politicians, resulted in the shooting. Despite the High Court’s directive, there was no police presence at the site in Curchorem when the incident occurred.

Table: Sand Mining Deaths & Violence in West India between April 2022 & Feb 2023

StatesDrowning deaths in sand mine pitsNo. mishaps at mine sites/ injury/ deathsNo. of road accidents/ injury/ deaths due to sand transporting vehiclesNo. of attacks/ injuries/ deaths of citizens/ activists/ reporters by illegal sand minersNo. of attacks/ injury/ deaths of govt. officials due to sand mafiaTotal death
Madhya PradeshNA02/00/0306/03/0601/01/0004/10/0009


On the basis of analysis of media reports, there have been death of at least 23 people in sand mining related accidents and violence in West Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa between April 2022 and February 2023. Maximum casualty (15) apart from injuries to 6 persons has occurred in 13 road accidents involving sand transporting vehicles followed by 4 deaths & 1 injury due to 3 mishaps at mining sites.

Of all deaths 12 due to road accident by sand carrying vehicles have taken place in Maharashtra and MP followed by 2 in Rajasthan and 1 in Gujarat in this period. The region has also witnessed incidents of fatal attacks by illegal miners on common citizens, RTI activists for opposing illegal sand mining activities resulting in death of 3 persons and injuries to 5 others in the past 11 months.

Members of Dalit community at protest rally after 2 BJP MLAs came in support of accused person for killing RTI activist Ramesh Balia in October 2022 in Kutch. Janjwar

Among the most gruesome murders by illegal sand miners includes killing of Ramesh Balia, RTI activist from Meghpar village in Kutch district of Gujarat on 03 October 2022 and brutal murder of Madhav Shinde in Palam tehsil of Parbhani district on 24 March 2022. Another RTI activist Amod Mundhe has faced attack by illegal sand miners on 08 July 2022 in Pen tehsil, Maharashtra for pursing an illegal sand mining case.  

In Jaipur, Rajasthan, a 35 year old person Suresh Choudhary was run over by a tractor and his brother was injured for objecting to sand transportation through his locality on 11 April 2022 while in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh the illegal miners tried to bury a Basad village farmer alive in a pit for opposing passage sand through his fields in Burhanpur on 14 December 2022. The incident of shooting in the night of 31 August 2022 in South Goa led to death of a migrant sand worker and critically injuring another worker.  

There have been at least 12 incidents of life threatening attacks by illegal miners causing injuries to about 22 government officials from forest, police and mining department in the reporting period. The maximum attacks (4) took place in Madhya Pradesh, injuring about 10 officials followed by 3 attacks and 5 injuries in Rajasthan.   

The incidents of illegal sand miners thrashing a constable in Dholpur, in July 2022; causing hand fracture to a forest guard in Ashok Nagar district, in April 2022; severely injuring a forest guard in Satna in October 2022; assaulting a SDO in police presence in Bhandara in April 2022 only show how violent and fearless they have become.

Police team inspecting Curchorem shoot out location after death of a migrant sand worker in Curchorem, Goa in September 2022. Goem Karponn

Pelting stones, opening firearms on government officials have become a common practice in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In some cases, local villagers are reported as joining illegal miners in attacking government officials. Surprisingly, the Forest Department, Morena has claimed intentional delay in action and indulgence of police personnel in illegal mining affairs. At the same time, trapping of 78 sand dumpers in Sindh flash floods in July 2022 in Bhind is classic example of ineffective sand mining governance in MP.

The illegal stone mining in the region has been taking a toll on human lives. While 2 stone workers lost their lives in stone mine collapse mishap in Sikar in July 2022; the water-filled stone quarry pit caused death of 5 members of a family including 3 children in Thane in May 2022.

We could not find reports on sand mining related death and violence incidents from the UTs of Daman & Diu and Dadar & Nagar Haveli in this period.  

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (

Note: The figures presented here are indicative based on various media reports we have come across for the reporting period so far. There could be several more sand mining violence and death incidents going unreported, being reported as routine accidents without revealing critical information or have remained uncovered by us. Also there is hardly any follow ups on people critically injured in attacks by mafias and hit by sand trucks. The actual death toll and injuries by riverbed mining activities could be much higher than the numbers mentioned here.

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